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American Electoral Reform

Lerticus

Senile Old Coot
Communism
Moscow Mitch also be pissing his shell, because Kentucky Democrat won the governorship (incumbent is refusing to concede, so still some fun days ahead there). Thing is, he was still liked a lot more than Comrade M, and the other guy had a bunch of scandals that were ignored to

Also noteworthy because Trumpy made it a referendum on himself, and his guy lost in a state that had a 30-point advantage for Trumpy in 2016.

Noteworthy in this context in that the new governor is vowing to restore voting rights to more than 14,000 people who lost those rights for felonies. A lot of those people are the sort that Republicans were trying to vote suppression.

Yeah, GOP still won in Mississippi, but that is like the sun rising in the East sort of thing.
 

Ravan

Gone
Moscow Mitch also be pissing his shell, because Kentucky Democrat won the governorship (incumbent is refusing to concede, so still some fun days ahead there). Thing is, he was still liked a lot more than Comrade M, and the other guy had a bunch of scandals that were ignored to

Also noteworthy because Trumpy made it a referendum on himself, and his guy lost in a state that had a 30-point advantage for Trumpy in 2016.

Noteworthy in this context in that the new governor is vowing to restore voting rights to more than 14,000 people who lost those rights for felonies. A lot of those people are the sort that Republicans were trying to vote suppression.

Yeah, GOP still won in Mississippi, but that is like the sun rising in the East sort of thing.
The republican may still win in Kentucky, because in any dispute on the election, the R controlled legislature can step in and pick a winner. With no oversight.
 

Lerticus

Senile Old Coot
Communism
The republican may still win in Kentucky, because in any dispute on the election, the R controlled legislature can step in and pick a winner. With no oversight.
Ignore any results where your party does not win. That's one way to turn a state blue.
 

Lerticus

Senile Old Coot
Communism
Another upset, and how it applies to fair elections.

Gov. John Bel Edwards defeated Republican Eddie Rispone 51% to 49% in Saturday's runoff election. This came after Edwards failed to reach a majority in an election last month, in which the Republican candidates combined actually beat the Democrats combined by a 52% to 47% margin.

The Democrat's victory Saturday is another demonstration of the limits of Trump's appeal and the importance of candidate quality even in our deeply polarized age.

Make no mistake: Louisiana is a deeply red state. Trump won it by 20 points in 2016. Currently, the President's approval rating percentage in the state is in the 50s. His last minute visit to Louisiana last week wasn't enough just as it wasn't enough in Kentucky on the eve of that election.
Fair Districts Louisiana, a grass-roots advocacy group, has been pushing for redistricting reform since 2017, counting Louisiana among the most highly gerrymandered states. The group held a bipartisan summit in 2018 and backed legislation in the 2019 session to enhance transparency in the redistricting process, which ultimately failed.

Then, on Thursday, in a 5-4 decision the high court crushed any hopes of federal intervention, essentially ruling that Congress and state Legislatures must tackle redistricting reforms themselves, says Fair Districts Louisiana co-founder Brandon Faske.

The group’s only recourse will be to return to the Louisiana Legislature next year, hoping state lawmakers will get behind the effort to bring impartiality and transparency to redrawing district lines.
----

In the deepest red of Trumpy's basket of deplorables, a Democrat governor wins reelection despite the Republican challenger having support from the orange man, and despite Republicans having the majority vote in the early stages of the elections.

What it basically means is that at worst the state will remain as gerrymandered as it is right now. The Republicans picked up seats in the legislature, but only have a veto power in their Senate. Unless some house Democrats flip, there is no way to redraw the maps after the 2020 census in a way that increases the terrible gerrymandering problem. They can't make it veto-proof.

Can this governor actually hold out long enough to force the legislature to redraw the maps fairly? Hard to say since the state legislature is usually fractured, and often does not vote along party lines. But there is a chance, especially if an offer is made to also accept some other piece of legislation without an extended battle.

EDIT: Oh, and a Kentucky update. The Republican governor actually conceded. That's another state that has a Democrat executive.
 
I can't think of a good reason to not either abolish the Senate entirely or to radically reform it, basically a return to the drawing board re: the US legislature's upper chamber, like maybe making it purely proportional, or even doing something like filling it via sortition.
 

Terra Novan

Well-known member
Author
I can't think of a good reason to not either abolish the Senate entirely or to radically reform it, basically a return to the drawing board re: the US legislature's upper chamber, like maybe making it purely proportional, or even doing something like filling it via sortition.
Or maybe turn it into a chamber where retired old peoples sit with impressive-sounding title, but fundamentally powerless outside of some ceremonies. Make them dress up like the Continental Congress for a plus.
 
Or maybe turn it into a chamber where retired old peoples sit with impressive-sounding title, but fundamentally powerless outside of some ceremonies. Make them dress up like the Continental Congress for a plus.
That has little point to it, in my eyes. It's the powerlessness of the Monarchy or the House of Lords here in the UK, but without even the pomp and grandeur which can only come from centuries of actually existing. You can't just snap your fingers and, hey presto, have a body which commands any kind of aura or symbolic prestige.
 

Vorpal

Administrator
Administrator
The paradox of the Senate is that most, or nearly most, people like their Senator, but hate the Senate.

Hot take: a democratic republic is the strongest form of government because it intrinsically has a mechanism to convince the population that the aristocrats are chosen by them rather than imposed on them.

As for the US being aristocratic, well, some examples: John Foster Dulles (Secretary of State), older brother of Allen Dulles (CIA director), grandson of John Foster (Secretary of State), nephew of of Robert Lansing (Secretary of State). Never-mind Roosevelt and Roosevelt, Bush (ex-CIA directory) and Bush (son), with competitors like John Kerry coming from a long line of governors and speaker of the house, to Clinton and Clinton again. Other ones like Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Al Gore had less impressively filled but still politically-successful relatives.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
Or maybe turn it into a chamber where retired old peoples sit with impressive-sounding title, but fundamentally powerless outside of some ceremonies. Make them dress up like the Continental Congress for a plus.
Nope, that would get the states in a right ol' state. The states need to be represented, period. You have to understand that in the grand scheme of things, the US is less a unitary state and more like a more federalized EU (or a Federal EU 1.0 so to speak) at best.
That has little point to it, in my eyes. It's the powerlessness of the Monarchy or the House of Lords here in the UK, but without even the pomp and grandeur which can only come from centuries of actually existing. You can't just snap your fingers and, hey presto, have a body which commands any kind of aura or symbolic prestige.
We've seen when a fairly neutered House of Lords and Monarchy can do against a powerful democratic portion of the government: literally nothing. Brexit is happening because the House of Commons has basically stripped the House of Lords and the House of Windsor of any and all real power within the government. If the House of Lords and the Monarchy have any real power, they would simply stop Brexit from happening in the first place and damn the consequences.
 
I used very specific terms, @Aaron Fox. 'Pomp', 'grandeur', 'aura', 'symbolic prestige'. Their purpose is less to do with actual governing than with acquiring and lending legitimacy for the real government: At the very least helping to counter the buildup of cults of personalities around Prime Ministers (Americans definitely seem to be more 'awed' at the office of President than Brits are at the office of Prime Minister)
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
I used very specific terms, @Aaron Fox. 'Pomp', 'grandeur', 'aura', 'symbolic prestige'. Their purpose is less to do with actual governing than with acquiring and lending legitimacy for the real government: At the very least helping to counter the buildup of cults of personalities around Prime Ministers (Americans definitely seem to be more 'awed' at the office of President than Brits are at the office of Prime Minister)
Wee little problem with that mate, that assumes that the House of Lords and Monarchy has any real power, which they don't. In order for something to be effective, it has to have real power. The House of Lords and the House of Windsor don't have any real power to speak of thanks to the House of Commons literally legislating it away.

A balance of powers in government requires actual powers to be utilized, and neutering the senate will only make things worse, given the other examples of upper legislature neutering.
 

Lerticus

Senile Old Coot
Communism
It is pretty much a moot point unless an amendment gets passed or Constitutional Convention is opened (both have about a 0% chance of happening). States are left with the obligation to fill Senate seats. Originally this was through appointment by governors, then it changed to elections for the sake of theater and having the public think that their votes were improving the system.

As it sits right now, the whole system is fucked, and unless some revolution happens which ends with coming up with a new set of rules for governance the system will not become unfucked.

The simplest solution would be to stop the shitshow of two elected legislative chambers, and just add the Senate members to the House. It's not like they are in any way effective in being separate chambers so long as party comes first in voting. But that suggestion doesn't even matter since nothing will ever change because of how pigheaded and obsessed the US is with never changing the things that are obviously broken.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
It is pretty much a moot point unless an amendment gets passed or Constitutional Convention is opened (both have about a 0% chance of happening). States are left with the obligation to fill Senate seats. Originally this was through appointment by governors, then it changed to elections for the sake of theater and having the public think that their votes were improving the system.

As it sits right now, the whole system is fucked, and unless some revolution happens which ends with coming up with a new set of rules for governance the system will not become unfucked.

The simplest solution would be to stop the shitshow of two elected legislative chambers, and just add the Senate members to the House. It's not like they are in any way effective in being separate chambers so long as party comes first in voting. But that suggestion doesn't even matter since nothing will ever change because of how pigheaded and obsessed the US is with never changing the things that are obviously broken.
That won't work Lerticus. It's just the same problem as Britain and Canada (among others) by that point.
 

Vorpal

Administrator
Administrator
Could an amendment to merge the chambers even theoretically pass? Article V stipulates that states shall have equal suffrage in the Senate and that no amendment to change this can be passed.

Well, I suppose theoretically it could if we radically re-interpret what ‘equal suffrage’ means, in a way that makes sense in a modern context but would send constitutional originalists frothing at the mouth.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
Could an amendment to merge the chambers even theoretically pass? Article V stipulates that states shall have equal suffrage in the Senate and that no amendment to change this can be passed.

Well, I suppose theoretically it could if we radically re-interpret what ‘equal suffrage’ means, in a way that makes sense in a modern context but would send constitutional originalists frothing at the mouth.
That won't happen in a thousand years because of the balance of power in government. It would also cause the same stupid problem that Britain and Canada (and a handful of others, those two are on the top of my head) have. Eliminate the Senate, power would be only in the cities and the suburban areas, and the rural will literally get told to get fucked.

Once that happens in the US in the current environment? The Troubles would be a fucking floor of what could happen, the more likely scenario is we'll have the same problem as we have in rural Afghanistan but with the fact that the rural is cutting off the electricity and other supplies either by rural idiots try to ensure that they don't flow or by people simply not working... likely a mix of both. The only reason they would lose is that the military has already went and turned their backs on those idiots, and we know that unless another nation-state is supporting them they'll simply get themselves killed because of how wide the difference between a militia/terrorist group and the military are.
 
Wee little problem with that mate, that assumes that the House of Lords and Monarchy has any real power, which they don't.
No, that assumption is not made. People respect the Queen, the average person respects the Queen. She remains Head of State of so many countries even though all of them have surely considered republicanism, and there has to be reasons for that. My guess is, they figure that the alternative is a powerless president, who by their elected nature will be unable to escape politicization. Having no power is the monarch's source of power, of soft power. Walter Bagehot divided constitutions into dignified and efficient parts about 150 years ago - you're free to think he is wrong and that I am wrong, but at least understand his, and my, point.

And what other example of "upper house neutering" do you find so disastrous? Ireland has an upper house which is arguably even weaker than the British House of Lords, and New Zealand is outright unicameral. Both are doing pretty good for themselves.
 

Vorpal

Administrator
Administrator
That won't happen in a thousand years because of the balance of power in government. It would also cause the same stupid problem that Britain and Canada (and a handful of others, those two are on the top of my head) have. Eliminate the Senate, power would be only in the cities and the suburban areas, and the rural will literally get told to get fucked.
I mean to the first part, yes, I don't expect it to actually happen even remotely. But I kind of wondered whether it it would even be constitutionally legal as a magical unicorn event. It's not clear to me that the constitutional interpretation can be pushed far enough, but I suppose an equal suffrage for states in the Senate does not technically mean non-zero suffrage, or similar interpretations.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
No, that assumption is not made. People respect the Queen, the average person respects the Queen. She remains Head of State of so many countries even though all of them have surely considered republicanism, and there has to be reasons for that. My guess is, they figure that the alternative is a powerless president, who by their elected nature will be unable to escape politicization. Having no power is the monarch's source of power, of soft power. Walter Bagehot divided constitutions into dignified and efficient parts about 150 years ago - you're free to think he is wrong and that I am wrong, but at least understand his, and my, point.
You are delusional then. The thing with the House of Windsor is basically only there because it hasn't done anything to get rid of the last vestigates of legitimacy. Right now, the only thing that the Queen can do at this point is literally to watch the Brexit trainwreck happen. The moment she tries anything, her family gets screwed as the legitimacy of the House of Windsor evaporates. There is a similar situation with the judicial branch of the US right now, if they do anything too radical, the judicial branch is literally done for, hence why they are doing things that aren't rocking the boat too much.
And what other example of "upper house neutering" do you find so disastrous? Ireland has an upper house which is arguably even weaker than the British House of Lords, and New Zealand is outright unicameral. Both are doing pretty good for themselves.
Ireland is an odd case but right now from what I can tell it isn't as good as you think it is, NZ isn't doing as well as you think it is, and the problem is what you can call the 'Toronto Problem' for Canada. Basically, all the power is so focused on one or two points that everyone else is told to get fucked. This is reflected in the policies of Canada, where whatever Toronto wants, Toronto gets and damn anyone standing in its way. If the Senate didn't exist, well, the best-case scenario is The Troubles: American Edition.
I mean to the first part, yes, I don't expect it to actually happen even remotely. But I kind of wondered whether it it would even be constitutionally legal as a magical unicorn event. It's not clear to me that the constitutional interpretation can be pushed far enough, but I suppose an equal suffrage for states in the Senate does not technically mean non-zero suffrage, or similar interpretations.
That's the thing, right now too many people are thinking of the stupid 'Democracy Uber Alles' mentality and will try to get rid of anything not a democracy.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
And I keep telling you that her "doing anything" is not the point. She isn't supposed to interfere with the actual process of government.
No, her original duty is essentially being the person who smacks the other two houses in the head if they get stupid enough that they endanger the state (while the houses have protocols just in case she is the idiot doing that). The other two houses are there because, quite literally, the House of Windsor wills it. Not the other way around.

Brexit is literally something that she would have been empowered to stop due to the financial damage (and pro-Brexit leaders being the ones profiting big time if Brexit goes forward) if the House of Commons didn't strip her of all her power. Last I've checked, Brexit's financial damages are great enough that we'll likely see a nasty depression in Great Britain... and that doesn't include the shitshow that is the possibility of The Troubles starting up again because of it (which would be another thing that, if she was in a less disempowered state, she would have legitimacy for stopping because no one in Britain wants to go through that shit again).
 

Vorpal

Administrator
Administrator
In the UK the parliament is sovereign so I'm not sure what's this about House of Windsor willing stuff.

And I keep telling you that her "doing anything" is not the point. She isn't supposed to interfere with the actual process of government.
OT for this thread but may be relevant to your general interests: there's a political term initially invented in the context of early XIX century Russian pseudo-republican revolutionaries (Decembrists) that might be translated as a vigilant branch of government. (ETA: Actually I'm not entirely sure it was invented then, but it existed then.)

The idea would be that the common division into executive, legislative, and judicial is in some sense West-centric and perhaps one can explicitly have four instead. (A thesis can be made that this is a general feature of Russian power structures, even though they're never conceptualised as such anymore.)
 
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Lerticus

Senile Old Coot
Communism
That won't work Lerticus. It's just the same problem as Britain and Canada (among others) by that point.
You shouldn't try to make an argument that something should not happen while citing as evidence places that function better than your own system.
Could an amendment to merge the chambers even theoretically pass? Article V stipulates that states shall have equal suffrage in the Senate and that no amendment to change this can be passed.

Well, I suppose theoretically it could if we radically re-interpret what ‘equal suffrage’ means, in a way that makes sense in a modern context but would send constitutional originalists frothing at the mouth.
As with everything in dealing with that archaic document, it has been repeatedly debated, and there is no clear consensus.

For example, there is no protections within Article V that stipulate that it cannot itself be amended. With that being the case, some people can argue that there is an implication that it is protected, but at the same time there are enough people who argue that the Constitution must be read literally (hello, 2nd Amendment) where the absence of self-protection should be interpreted as the Founding Fathers' desire to allow the Constitution to be completely modified as needed (and there would certainly be other documents by those individuals that would back up this intent).

So there are technically 3 different ways that Senate merger can happen.
  1. Pass an amendment to Article V, removing the protection clause. Then there is nothing preventing another amendment from going through.
  2. Article I's vesting clause can be amended - which provides the declaration that there be two separate chambers - to one chamber. This does not necessarily mean an abolishment of the Senate as a group of representatives, only their position as a second house. In such an amendment the states can still elect or appoint Senators as representatives of the state rather than of an individual electoral district. End result is only one mixed-representation shitshow chamber instead of two.
  3. If somehow a Constitutional Convention were opened the old Constitution is toilet paper. A new document is drafted, the protections no longer exist, and the only way that those protections get extended is if they are also written into the new document.
Further, consensus is that "equal suffrage" means only that the states may all have an equal number of representatives. This number can be changed from 2 per state to 1, 3, 741, or theoretically to none if the articles on the composition of the legislative branch are altered so that the duties are handled by the other chamber. You could amend the powers of the Senate to be purely ceremonial (by Grabthar's hammer what a savings), or could amend the role of Senators to be filled by puppies and kittens. The Article V protection is actually quite weak since it only guarantees equal representation while not preventing changes to absolute everything else about the Senate.

All that being said, I already acknowledged that any changes are already moot. There is almost no way that another amendment will ever get passed with the way that partisanship has taken hold, a Constitutional Convention even less likely, and the entire system is stuck in a stasis where even discussion of change is an unspeakable horror. End result is that the Senate effectively can never be fixed, so it is up to the states to fix the House of Representatives.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
In the UK the parliament is sovereign so I'm not sure what's this about House of Windsor willing stuff.
Nope, traditionally Parliament has been at the mercy of the House of Windsor. However, in recent years the House of Commons stripped that power from the House of Windsor.
 

Vorpal

Administrator
Administrator
Nope, traditionally Parliament has been at the mercy of the House of Windsor. However, in recent years the House of Commons stripped that power from the House of Windsor.
How recent are we talking about? Parliamentary sovereignty, as well as the House of Commons grabbing the largest piece of its authority, was a thing for a long time before the House of Windsor was (technically) in existence. Parliament essentially became co-sovereign during the Glorious Revolution in the late XVII century and started neutering the Crown relatively soon after.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
Author
How recent are we talking about? Parliamentary sovereignty, as well as the House of Commons grabbing the largest piece of its authority, was a thing for a long time before the House of Windsor was (technically) in existence. Parliament essentially became co-sovereign during the Glorious Revolution in the late XVII century and started neutering the Crown relatively soon after.
We're talking within the latter half of the 20th at the earliest here (with it literally in writing earlier this decade if I remember right), with the start of the process beginning during a major budget fight between the House of Lords and House of Commons during the literal turn of the 20th (1900 to 1910).

Everything previous had everyone more or less respect their respective circles.
 
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